Last week I got to sit down and talk to Ryan Pollie who makes music under the Los Angeles Police Department moniker. We were introduced through a friend earlier this summer and became friends in turn through our mutual enjoyment of hockey and making music. LAPD’s self-titled debut will be out at the beginning of September on Forged Artifacts, and you can pre-order it on Bandcamp. For more, make sure to like LAPD on Facebook and follow on Twitter @LAPDmusic.
GB: So, I read the Stereogum interview, and I was like, “Wow. All right, that’s pretty much better than anything I could ever really write.”
RP: Yeah. I just shat out of my mouth in that. I need to get [better about that]. This is my first record I’ve ever done, so…
It’s fun to talk about that shit, though, man.
It’s fun, but then I started reading that, and by the end of the first paragraph, I was like, “Nope. Can’t do that.”
It’s too personal. It’s weird to see it online. I don’t know.
Well, for what it’s worth, I actually read that and thought, “Wow, that’s cool,” but I guess I haven’t been on the other side of it, so I can’t really relate.
You’ll very bluntly say something like, “Oh yeah, this song is about being depressed and drinking too much and being holed up in my room for a month,” and then you look at that sentence on a website and you’re like, “Oh, fuck.”
"That’s too real…"
Yeah, exactly. And you’re like, “Oh well… I just said that because that’s what it’s about.” You kind of forget that art and music are really personal things.
So, this record is gonna be out on Forged Artifacts in September. How did you end up getting hooked up with them?
When I released “The Only One,” my first song as LAPD, Mark [from Yvynyl] wrote about it, and it was the biggest deal to me. I was freaking out about it, and I’m still so grateful that he picked it up. Basically, he introduced me to Matt [the head of Forged Artifacts]. Mark was like, “Yo Ryan, I love the song, I’m posting about it today,” and I go to the page, and the post right there on the front page with “The Only One” was this letter that Matt had written Mark that was kind of the coolest, weirdest press email I had ever seen. It was Matt being like, “I have a bunch of solid bands, and all I can promise them is that I love their music and I will champion their music and work my ass off to get it out there,” and it was so honest. He talked about what it was like to be a DIY label. Well, that day he reached out to me and was like, “I heard your song, I love your song,” and I was like, “Dude. I read your letter, I love your label!” That was probably in January. We didn’t end up deciding officially to work together until way later, but he’s just a great dude.
How did it feel to get all these write-ups from all these cool publications? Yvynyl, Gold Flake Paint… Pitchfork. Was it like, “Wow! They actually wanted to write about it!”?
I think it always depends what it says. In general, to answer your question, underwhelming. (laughs)
Well, it was fucking amazing at first, to be honest. Now that people are writing about it, some of that has worn off a little bit, but at the beginning when it was like, “Dude, people are starting to like this,” that was a huge deal. Because, I’d show my friends [my tunes] and they’d be like, “What is this? This is weird.” It was so amazing to have that first [experience] where you’re like, “This dude has been writing about music for this long, and he liked it?!” Mark was one of those guys. I knew Yvynyl, and I had been reading it forever. It’s especially great when writers you respect are writing cool things about it. But sometimes it can be underwhelming. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. I don’t think any successful musician is reading their own review.
I just think it’s cool to see that someone gave a fuck and actually wrote something.
I’ve read some stuff where — I’ll never forget this — it was something like, “It reminded me of when I was a kid and when I was near this tree, and my mom brought my a blanket and comforted me when I was cold, and it reminds me of how my mom was always there for me.” And I was like, “Holy shit!”
I like it when people get it — when they’re like, “I get what this song is about; it makes me feel this,” and you can be like, “Yeah, it makes me feel that, too!”
So, earlier this summer, we were talking about recording methods and philosophies, and you seemed to take a more “organic” approach — essentially, doing it the way you hear it, and not overthinking it. Is that right?
I don’t do anything in the box. The only thing I’ve ever done in the box is add reverb. There’s no compression, no EQ — I don’t really know what I’m doing in that respect. I figure if something sounds good going in, then that’s good enough right?
Yeah, I think the saying is, "Shit in, shit out."
For me, the way that I record ends up being the easiest way, and that’s that. I literally set up a mic and play a take, and that’s it. For this record, I had Garageband, a MobilePre, and this condenser mic that I bought in college because I wanted to record an album for my thesis. It was such a basic set-up. There’s digital artifacts and terrible shit all over the record, but it’s such a layered record that it kind of sounds like vinyl pops. (laughs) Or at least, I like to think it does.
But even friends of mine would listen to the tunes and then be like, “So when’re you gonna go record this stuff?” Like, I’d give them the song, and they’d be like, “Oh, cool, man. This is a really good skeleton for a song,” and I’d be like, “This is the song, you asshole!” (laughs)
So, I wanted to ask you about the DIY scene in Los Angeles. What can you tell me about it?
Well, it’s weird. Somebody hit me up about doing an interview about the DIY scene in L.A., and I got kind of nervous. They wanted to interview me, Rachel (R.L. Kelly), and Avid Dancer, so I got kind of nervous that they would interview me and I’d be all negative about it. But if I were to speak truthfully about the DIY L.A. scene, I would probably have to speak negatively about it.
The only community I really had was Jack [of Princess Reason], but he left. Jack would hit me up whenever he had shows, I would hit him up whenever we had house party shows. We were friends, and we would kick it. Really, the best version of a DIY scene is me having house parties at my house, and all our friends come, and we get trashed, and I play a show.
I feel like people like you are the ones championing it, and if it ever ends up thriving, it’ll be because of that.
[The DIY community] is kind of a thing, but it’s not really a thing. There’re DIY artists here, but it’s not like a community really.
Yeah, that’s kind of the reason I left. It felt impossible to find people who gave a fuck.
I think a lot of it, too, is — being part of a community means that you wanna go back and see some of the same bands, same people, same group of friends. Here, people check out a band and are like, “Okay. Check. Saw them.”
And it’s also hard to get around that town, in general. Even just trying to hang out with your friends, not trying to go do anything.
Exactly. Honestly, that’s what stopping me from moving to Silverlake. I have friends where I’m at, and if I move I’m never gonna see them again. I expected music to be everywhere when I moved here, and it is, but it’s so diluted and spread out.
I thought it was kind of difficult to really connect with people down there.
Absolutely. Most bands are so worried about getting great shows and opening for sweet bands, that nobody takes the time to put on cool shows with everybody on the same level.
On top of that, it’s a giant market, and one that all huge acts hit. Like, sometimes bands can skip Portland, but they’re always gonna hit Los Angeles.
Yeah. I can’t book a headlining spot at the Echo, for example, and be like, “Yeah, I’ve got all these friends who I want to play,” because then again, what it comes down to is that they say, “All right, cool, tickets will be $10 at the door, and what’s your draw, and can you fill that room?”
And even if people do show, it’s $10 to get in, then $6 a beer, so you show up and have a couple beers, and it’s suddenly a $22 night.
Pretty much, you get the lights, you get the sound guy, and the PA system…
And you also get the four people who show up and spend the whole show texting.
Yeah, exactly. If I’m having a house party, people are first and foremost coming to hang out. You don’t have to pay for shit! There’s a 7-11 across the street if you wanna get booze. Also, we’re in our house, and we’re comfortable there.
Honestly, though, one of the coolest things I’ve seen in California as far as community goes is what Ty Segall does. My friend is in Wand, and Ty saw them, or heard them, and he was super into them. He kind of took them under his wing, and he was like, “You guys are gonna kill it — I’m gonna put on these shows, and you’ll have these sold out shows to get your music out there.” I thought that was super cool.
And then there’s the Burger thing, which actually kind of freaks me out. All these tiny 13 year old kids with green hair that worship Mac Demarco — it’s super weird! I thought Mac Demarco was dad rock.
My problem with Burger is that it sort of feels like a parody of itself at this point because A) they put out so much stuff that it’s sort of oversaturated and B) everyone wants to be the next Burger, but they want to do the exact same thing, like copy their aesthetic and everything.
I think Burger is like a microcosm of Los Angeles music — and the music industry in general. It’s spread too thin, there’s too much of it, and it sounds too similar. There’s a lot of great fucking bands on that record label, though.
Last but not least, I wanted to ask about your Stanley Cup prediction for this season.
Dude, it’s gonna be Kings-Devils. (laughs)
Kings-Devils? Yeah, okay, I bet. I think 1994 is like, the only time that could’ve been possible.
That’s just what I want to see. Although, then I wouldn’t know who to root for. I’m a solid Kings fan, but the Devils are my childhood team, so I don’t know what I’d do.